HomeAsk Deke: How can my choir attract both younger and more seasoned singers?

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Q: How can a brand-new just off the ground A cappella Chorus attract more younger members (10-20) and yet still be attractive to the seasoned singers?
~ Kevin

A: This is a question that plagues many a choir, as they want new blood, yet don’t want to lose interest of their experienced members.

There is no perfect formula, but there are a few important considerations:

* Repertoire: We are all drawn to “the music of our lives” which for most people is the music they hear between the ages of 15-25 (roughly). Memories are made, and more free time is spent listening to music, resulting in a strong imprint. This means if you want younger members, you’ll likely want to entice them with songs that excite them, which are songs from the past decade. Will your older members rebel? Not if you pick great current/recent songs. Ed Sheerin, Bruno Mars, Adele… there are many current songwriters who craft timeless lyrics and melodies that all ages in your choir will enjoy, even if they’re not listening to current pop radio.

* Social Bonding: Recent college grads who join a group are usually looking for more than a place to sing. They want a social group, as they had in college. As such be sure your choir is not just about standing on the risers and plunking notes. Grab a pizza before rehearsal or a beer after. Make sure rehearsals and performances are fun and engaging.

* Critical Mass: One young member showing up alone to a weeknight rehearsal may feel awkward. You’re better off setting a specific date to which new members are invited, so that there will be several twentysomethings arriving and testing the waters at the same time. Before this date, do some significant outreach, contacting to local college groups to ask about their recent grads, post online, etc. By setting it up as a free a cappella meetup (or some such) a couple of times a year, you’ll likely get people who are missing singing but had no idea about your choir.

* Feedback: Ask your members, new and old, what they want to do. Everything above is true in a general sense, but in the end it comes down to what your 40 (or so) singers want out of the group.

Best of luck! Let us know what works for you, and if anyone reading this has additional suggestions, please post below.